For Leia Shrout, challenges in her past didn’t define her future.
Leia’s grandfather raised her after her father and grandmother passed away. But just before Leia graduated from college, her beloved grandfather died. And during this emotionally difficult time, she also learned she was pregnant.
Needing immediate employment to care for her child and maintain the home she inherited from her grandfather, Leia knew she didn’t have the clothing required for job interviews. Then she heard about Dress for Success and reached out to the non-for-profit, which provides business-appropriate apparel and guidance for job seekers.
“They were very, very kind,” Leia said. “They gave me advice, and I ended up getting a job at Duke Energy.”
Flash forward more than six years later to the OneAmerica annual Week of Caring and a full-circle moment for Leia, who made Dress for Success her charity of choice.
“I had around 20 pairs of shoes and a couple of bags full of clothes,” said Leia, now a senior field tech for OneAmerica. “I dropped those off at Dress for Success downtown in Indianapolis and got to talk to them while I was there. It was nice to be on the other side of it and find out more about the organization.”
Leia’s story is just one of the multiple inspiring accounts arising from the ongoing and purposeful commitment to community service OneAmerica demonstrates throughout the year.
“There are so many different ways we give back,” said Shira Amos, community affairs manager at OneAmerica. “We have over 100 different nonprofit and not-for-profit partners we work with, from workforce development to education to innovation.”
The United Way, with its over 1,800 fundraising affiliates, is among the many important organizations Shira referenced. In Indianapolis, OneAmerica coordinates our giving through Vivien Carter, corporate engagement manager at United Way of Central Indiana.
“In the time I have worked with OneAmerica, they’ve been incredible,” Vivien said. “This is not a one-and-done thing for them. Philanthropy is deeply rooted in their business, and you can tell they support their associates and encourage them to be civically engaged.”
While OneAmerica associates generously provide financial donations for this and other such organizations, it’s understood the gift of time and talent proves equally impactful. One distinctive effort continues to be the MapSwipe volunteer project or the American Red Cross.
When disaster strikes, some vulnerable populations are literally invisible on many digital maps. MapSwipe is a mobile app designed to help first responders find these populations quickly and provide assistance in times of need.
This is where OneAmerica volunteers stepped in to help. Using the MapSwipe technology, associates located and marked mobile homes in the Arizona desert.
Over 800 heatstroke deaths are reported annually in Arizona. Low-income and elderly populations often account for these fatalities. But because OneAmerica associates helped locate and map many of the homes, the American Red Cross can offer preemptive assistance to anyone living there.
“For every mobile home identified,” said Jeff Imel, regional program director for the American Red Cross, “the state of Arizona will send a team of people to do a health and welfare check. They also check to see if the occupants have a working air-conditioning unit. If they don’t, they’ll either repair or replace the unit on the spot.”
The American Red Cross deeply appreciated the efforts of OneAmerica associates.
“The OneAmerica team members are helping thousands of people every day through the company’s volunteer activities, financial donations and support,” said Amanda Mirani, regional philanthropy officer for the American Red Cross. “They’re helping people they are never going to meet. But those who receive assistance are thankful.”
For Shira, the extraordinary efforts of her fellow associates are the best part of her job. From the work of many, the community as a whole reaps the reward.
“It’s amazing to hear stories like these,” Shira said, “because you know the work you’re doing is meaningful and continues to give back — and not just to those in Indiana but across the country.”